When your employer must order you to work overtime

The length and duration of working time have fixed rules. What about its possible extension in the form of overtime or shortening? And when during working hours are employees entitled to breaks? This is the focus of our article.

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When can you be ordered to work overtime?

The Labour Code is not a big fan of overtime and requires that it should be exceptional. We’re talking about work that is done in excess of the set working hours. However, in practice, this is too often not observed. However, it is important to adhere to the limit set, whereby the work ordered must not exceed 150 hours in a calendar year and no more than 8 hours on average may be worked in a week. Thecompensatory period, i.e. the period in which overtime work may not exceed 8 hours per week on average, may not exceed 26 consecutive weeks.

If there is a genuine need, the employer may only require overtime beyond these limits by agreement with the employee. However, even this agreement is not unlimited. In fact, in a calendar year, no employee may work more than 416 hours of overtime. However, this limit does not include overtime for which the employee has received compensatory time off.

If compensation in the form of compensatory time off is agreed, then the hour of overtime shall be compensatory time off, which the employee shall choose as agreed. Of course, he will not lose pay for the work done.

The overtime work must either be ordered by the employer or at least done with the employer’s knowledge and consent. However, if someone procrastinates on his mobile phone for half the working hours and then catches up with his tasks in the office in the evening, this is not overtime work in any case. On the other hand, if an employer assigns work in such a way that the average person cannot objectively complete it by the end of working hours, it would be overtime.

Tip: Find out what other cases you are entitled to paid leave.

How is overtime paid?

For overtime work, the employee is entitled to a salary plus a supplement of 25% of average earnings, unless he or she has agreed with the employer to receive time off in lieu of the supplement. With an hourly wage of 200 crowns, an hour of overtime work would thus be entitled to a wage of 250 crowns.

However, the situation will be different if the wage has already been agreed to include overtime, which is already foreseen in advance. In this case, the employee is no longer entitled to additional pay or compensatory time off.

However, the procedure will be different in the case of an employee who has not yet reached the age of 18. Young employees are more protected and therefore their working time has its own specificities. In principle, the employer may not impose overtime and night work on them. The law also prohibits employing pregnant employees to work overtime. Thus, for both these categories of employees, overtime work both ordered by the employer and agreed with the employee is excluded.

Another exception applies to female employees who are caring for a child under 1 year of age. Even for these ,the employer may not order overtime work. However, overtime can be agreed with these employees.

Labour law is regulated by a number of legal provisions, but the Labour Code is its “bible”. It regulates both the basic principles and also very specific provisions describing the creation of the employment relationship and the circumstances of its duration. You will also find out what your employer must provide for you and what you are entitled to as an employee. We have therefore selected the five parts of the Labour Code that are most frequently asked about and that are worth knowing.

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What about breaks?

Taking breaks at work is not only desirable for our health, but also mandatory. The law makes it compulsory to take a 30-minute meal and rest break at work after a minimum of 6 hours. This break can also be divided, but at least one part must last at least 15 minutes. Note, however, that the break can only be taken during the working day, not at the beginning or at the end. Therefore, even with the employer’s consent, you cannot work the break and leave early.

Breaks do not count as part of working time and are therefore not paid. An employee who has a traditional 8-hour shift does not leave work until after 8.5 hours. Exceptions are so-called safety breaks. The employee is paid for these as they are included in the working time. These are those imposed by a specific law, for example for bus drivers.

Another exception is continuous work, i.e. work where the employee cannot leave the workplace for a longer period of time and stop working. He or she must also be given a rest and meal break, which counts towards working time and will therefore be reimbursed. Examples include a heating engineer operating a boiler that must not go out, or employees on a production line.

Few of us can work for eight hours without a break. And it shouldn’t be the goal. Even for the sake of work performance itself, it’s good to take a break and rest for a while. Last but not least, the law requires it. We have discussed the requirements for taking breaks in detail in a separate article.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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